Residents anger as fourth gambling casino approved in Willesden street

Natwar Chudasamar opposes a fourth casino in Willesden High Road

Natwar Chudasamar opposes a fourth casino in Willesden High Road - Credit: Adam Shaw

Families are furious as another gambling shop was approved in Willesden – despite three bookies already being in the same street.

Brent Council planning bosses unanimously approved the plans to turn a former betting shop in High Road, into an adult gaming centre (AGC) on July 21.

Twenty objections were made to the plans by residents, who argued it would have a detrimental impact on the surrounding area. 

Natwar Chudasamar, of photography shop National Art Studio, which is next to the site, said it is “not the type of business” to boost the high street.

He called for a push for more retail units along the road to encourage local shopping in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Mr Chudasamar, a trader in Willesden for more than 30 years,  fears a repeat of the antisocial behaviour and street drinking that occurred when his neighbour operated as a bookies. 

He said: “You would sometimes see gangs hanging around, drinking and smoking. This is not good for the street, we want to see shops that can serve the community.”

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Richard Harrison, of Cornwall Gardens, agreed it “wouldn’t be hard” to think of something that would be better suited. 

He said: “I can only see it as a negative – what positive thing comes from gambling? It seeks to exploit people and make money off addictions.”

A resident on Chambers Lane, who wished to be named as Maria, said the premises would have a damaging impact on nearby schools.

“It just seems a shame – we are surrounded by betting shops so I am not sure why we would need another," she said. 

“I thought there was some legislation that protects against the clustering of such shops – it doesn’t create a very good atmosphere. 

“They are targeting vulnerable people. There is a clear link between these shops and areas of deprivation, they know people will be tempted. 

“And we have two schools nearby, it’s not good that children will have to pass this at least twice-a-day.”

Sam Elliott, the agent representing the applicant Cashino Gaming Ltd, argued there is a difference between AGCs and bookmakers in that ACGs have no fixed odds betting terminals. 

He said: “There is sometimes a misconception as to how AGCs operate. They are not noisy and usually cater for post shift workers looking to relax.”

Cashino had initially proposed a 24-hour operation at the site but council officers suggested hours of 8am to 10pm Monday to Thursday and 8am to midnight on Saturday and Sunday would be more appropriate. 

Mr Elliott asked for these to be extended to midnight everyday of the week but this was refused by the committee.

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